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NACWA Joins New York City, Louisville, and CASA on Ninth Circuit Amicus Effort Supporting San Francisco in Post-LTCP Permitting Litigation

September 2, 2021

NACWA joined Association members the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District and the City of New York, as well as the California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA), in filing an amicus brief this week in support of NACWA member the City and County of San Francisco’s challenge to their first post-long term control plan (LTCP) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

San Francisco is challenging a permit issued jointly by EPA and the State of California that inappropriately requires the city to revisit its LTCP despite an absence of data showing that there is any water quality need to do so.  The permit also includes language NACWA has long objected to requiring that discharges not “cause or contribute” to the violation of water quality standards without identifying what, if any, additional specific controls are needed to comply with that blanket statement. 

NACWA’s amicus brief emphasizes the significant water quality gains made by members nationwide under the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Policy, and highlights the billions of dollars of investments the municipal clean water community has and continues to make to control CSOs.  The brief also provides historical background on the CSO Policy and asks the court to review the challenged permit provisions within context of the unique CSO control process laid out in the CWA.

Specifically, the brief highlights how the significant investments made by communities nationwide under the CSO Policy will be at risk if courts allow permit writers to arbitrarily require cities to revisit LTCPs, which are implemented over the course of decades, or to include permit language that fails to provide clarity to clean water utilities on what is expected of them.  The brief also notes that such provisions could impermissibly divert billions of public dollars going forward to unnecessary CSO controls when those funds would serve greater human health and environmental benefits if used for other projects.

NACWA’s brief was authored by NACWA Legal Affiliate Crowell & Moring. The Association would like to thank the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District, the City of New York, and CASA for their work on the brief and support of NACWA and fellow utility San Francisco.  Please contact NACWA’s Chief Legal Counsel, Amanda Aspatore, with any questions. 

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